Bio · Human-ities · Theory

About FACE

For half a century, one theory about the way we experience and express emotion has helped shape how we practice psychology, do police work, and even fight terrorism. But what if that theory is wrong?

Forty-six years ago a young San Francisco–based cowboy of a psychologist named Paul Ekman emerged from the jungle with proof of a powerful idea. During the previous couple of years, he had set out trying to prove a theory popularized in the 19th century by Charles Darwin: that people of all ages and races, from all over the world, manifest emotions the same way. Ekman had traveled the globe with photographs that showed faces experiencing six basic emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. Everywhere he went, from Japan to Brazil to the remotest village of Papua New Guinea, he asked subjects to look at those faces and then to identify the emotions they saw on them. To do so, they had to pick from a set list of options presented to them by Ekman. The results were impressive. Everybody, it turned out, even preliterate Fore tribesmen in New Guinea who’d never seen a foreigner before in their lives, matched the same emotions to the same faces. Darwin, it seemed, had been right. Continue at BOSTON MAGAZINE

Human-ities · Performativity · Science · Technology

On Stephen Hawking, Vader and Being More Machine Than Human

Click-click-click: This is what you hear when having a conversation with Stephen Hawking. No voice, no other sounds, no facial expressions. For those who know him, Hawking may be able to communicate through his eyes; but for the rest of us, his sole means of communicating is through infrared connection to his computer.

Hawking has become a kind of a “brain in a vat.” Since being afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease) almost 50 years ago, his muscles have stopped working, though his mind and senses remain unaffected. In some ways Hawking is, to borrow from Obi-Wan referring to Darth Vader, “more machine now than man.”

In one version of Hawking’s eulogistic story, we praise the smartest person in the world, the brilliant physicist, one of the greatest cosmologists of our time. He fits perfectly well with our conception of how science and its heroes work: To be a genius all one needs is a powerful – a “beautiful” – mind. And indeed, because of his disability, Hawking embodies the mythical figure capable of grasping the ultimate laws of the universe with nothing but the sheer strength of his reasoning: He can’t move his body, so everything must be in his mind. What else would a theoretical physicist need?

Excerpt from an article written by Helene Mialet at WIRED. Continue HERE